The third book in my Cybils Award posts (winner! & book 2) Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly is about a girl named Apple who wants to fit in. She’s of Filipino descent and moved to Louisiana with her mom when she was little. Immigrant stories are a common thing now and sometimes it’s done well and sometimes its not as easy to relate for those who don’t have that experience. I think this book does a good job with it because it also adds in other stories that are easy for middle grade readers to relate to. For example, feeling left out, liking boys, making friends, etc.
I like that things that Apple wants herself are shown in other characters to be just as debilitating and not a cure all. i.e. she wanted a new costume to make her fit in but Heleena (an outcast) had a brand new costume and still didn’t fit in. Sometimes I feel like she throws things in that she doesn’t revisit just to add diversity or conflict, “I wondered what it was like to have a complete family.” Although she talks about her dad it’s mainly about music and her need for a guitar and not because she feels a hole in her family.
Anyway, I enjoyed this book but it’s about middle way down on my list. Good, but not memorable.
If I were putting my Cybils books in order of winner to worst it would start with Blackthorn Key (the winner!) and move down to Book Scavenger. I will continue the reviews of the last 3 books in this order of winner to worst in the next few days.
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman was a great read. It starts out with a very complicated explanation of how the Book Scavenger game is played. I almost gave up right then, so it makes me worried that middle grade readers might as well. After reading Book Scavenger and talking to my fellow judges we did determine that it was a lot like Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. Those who like that book will also like this book. I liked the boy / girl friendship between James & Emily and the relationship with her brother, Matthew. I also liked the way the parents were portrayed. In a lot of children’s books the parents are either not present or seem like idiots. It was also about a love of books and I love books! However, you may also need to have a love of puzzles. People who don’t love puzzles, may not like or finish this book. Which is unfortunate. But those who do like it will be excited to hear that there’s a book 2 in the works! (Coming January 2017)
2016 Reading Challenge: a book from the library
Let me tell you all about Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands, the Cybils Award WINNER! I had it in my mind that this book should be the winner even before we had our delegating chat.
I loved this book so much. Here’s a quick summary via Goodreads.
“London, 1665. Fourteen-year-old Christopher Rowe is apprenticed to master apothecary Benedict Blackthorn. In Blackthorn’s shop, Christopher learns the delicate secrets of transforming simple ingredients into powerful medicines, potions and weapons… Helped by his best friend, Tom, Christopher must decipher his master’s clues, following a trail of deceit towards an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart.”
I read this book in tandem with another one of the book choices and in doing so it seriously highlighted the differences between our time and 1665 London. In our time, teenagers are rude to their parents and self centered. At least, in my opinion, based on one of the books I was reading. I won’t say which one because I am not a rude teenager (anymore). All Christopher wants to do is please his master! Even when he hits him! I think some middle grade readers may need a bit more information as far as the historical situation goes (not all of them may know Thomas Cromwell or the time period) but it can still be understood that traitors are bad so it’s not a big issue. I like that the book feels complete but somewhat open ended with the disappearance of a main antagonist. The characters are nicely fleshed out but there are a lot of them in the guild. I felt like sometimes they were called by their last names or different titles and there were just a fair amount of people to remember so that might also be hard. I also think because of the scientific experiments and potions, along with Christopher’s age, this could also easily be considered a YA crossover book.
There are so many books I’ve been wanting to re-read lately but never do. I rarely, if ever, re-read a book because I always feel like I’m missing out on something new by going backwards. However, if I were to re-read these are the books I would go back to.
All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.I love these books. Apparently I already wrote a post about re-reading these books before the third book come out. I can guarantee I didn’t actually finish them because of my re-reading issue. Review of book one.
Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I can’t really say that I have a re-reading issue with these because I’ve only read book one. BUT, it was amazing and I need to read the others. There seems to be a resurgence for these books because Starz just made it into a very popular TV show. Season two comes out in April. Very exciting.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and The Red Tent by Anita Diamant are two books that I tell people to read all.the.time. Sometimes I even claim they’re my favorites. Can I tell you anything specific about them? Definitely not. Because I haven’t read them in years. YEARS! These are two I need to re-read for sure.
Is there something you love to re-read or do you feel like I do?
*Disclaimer: I have listened to The Night Circus at least 3 x. Jim Dale is the exception to the rule.
Last week I told y’all I had done the delegation with my fellow judges for the Cybils Awards. Well, on Sunday, they were announced! Check out all the category winners here. My category, Middle Grade Fiction, chose the book Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands. I hope you’ll pick it up! Stay tuned for reviews of all five books that made it to the final round.
Libraries aren’t just books anymore! I started reading this article just to see what other libraries were circulating and lo and behold, Millis, Massachusetts is mentioned!
“At Millis Public Library, patrons can check out items including binoculars, board games, sewing machines, pedometers, cake pans, metal detectors and even ukuleles (the latter is one of the library’s most popular items, according to Lent). For the sake of simplicity, every item (book or otherwise) at Millis Public Library carries a two-week lending period and a 10 cent per day late fee.”
Awesome! At our library we have daycare kits that include books, a craft and sometimes a little puppet centered on a theme (usually holidays or seasons), we’re also implementing cake pan rentals, and we have two American girl dolls and a LEGO set that can be checked out! Very exciting things. Check out your local library and see what they have. I can almost guarantee they have something more than just books.
This weekend turned into a FOUR day weekend due to snow and it was thrilling. On Saturday night I gathered together with my fellow Cybils Judges and we had a quick (30 min!) gchat about the nominees in our category, Middle Grade Fiction. I’m told that 30 mins is a quick decision time compared to other years so that’s exciting. I like it when people agree. Someone in our group said they thought it may have been quicker this year (a lot of the judges were repeat offenders) because none of us felt super strongly about the books. I could agree with this. I felt super strongly that one should NOT be the winner but I enjoyed all the others. I will be posting reviews of all 5 books once they make the announcement on the day of l-o-v-e (2/14).